Friday, April 13, 2007

Submission for Catholic Women's Experience

I am submitting this essay for consideration to be included in an anthology that explores the catholic women's experience. Copywrited, 2007.

There Are No Memoirs

What would you say if I said that I feel forgotten by God?

Would you say that it’s ludicrous because God never forgets? That I must not have strong faith? That I should pray more frequently? Or would you say that I am an ill-hearted pessimist hoping to smear the windows of the pretty blue churches?

What would you say if I reconsidered and posed that perhaps it isn’t God who is forgetting me, but rather, it is I who is allowing me to be forgotten? Is it then my lapse? Would you abandon your once ready pep talk about God’s eternal memory and reach in for a different sermon index card with “Spiritual Motivation!” in the headline instead?

What if neither of those are the answers? Suppose what I have to say is not really a memoir of statements or a collection of unreleased womanly truths about Catholicism. What if in my chance as a Catholic, first generation Filipina - who was told to shut up; who wept into the hard wooden pews; who was told to give and give until my soul bled; who mind-cursed at priests; and was told to be a sacrificial lamb for others and to forgive regardless of apology – I chose not to provide a self-testament, but a question?

Simply put, I just don’t have the desire anymore to tell the highlighted stories about my life, about the cultural split of being raised in a White western society by immigrant parents with inflexible Filipino Catholicism, or how my first and only love once left me to go to seminary. I’m too drained to once more expand upon my experience with church scandal and betrayal, symbolism, and pain. A hundred times already have I expounded upon the circular journey of finding strength and resilience in the Catholic Church. No one really listened before. So, why ask now about my seemingly unsettling identity as a Catholic Radical f(P)eminist of color? Would anyone, anymore listen? Would one more narrative really crack the walls of the church?

In my ephemeral, naïve days, I believed, yes. I believed that solely because it was my story, my voice, and my life it actually would crack the church walls from the inside. However, that kind of belief system breathes egocentric air and the church has had its full of pompous, one-way leaders who believe their footpath is strikingly similar to the road to Calvary. That kind of leadership resembles mixing oil with holy water. Not even with a thousand furious stirs, those two elements will not fuse.

In the place of a one-dimensional scorecard, I began spending more time sifting complexity, paradox, and metaphor. Asking questions swallowed me to a deeper space. I began asking questions. Not the lamenting or accusatory questions that prompt defensiveness and spit dogma, but the arrowed questions that cannot and should not be denied. The kind of questions you must never attempt to swerve around or risk silencing. They are the hinting questions that indicate perhaps most of our problems are not that we ourselves are terribly wrong, but rather we have narrowly shortchanged the creativity of our Creator. Where is the sin in truth-seeking and truthful inquiry? I figured that if the Church will not take my answers, then the Church must take my questions.

It is my prayer, my winged breath that my questions rock the core of so many leaders who have painted the Holy Spirit as a flying dove with a scroll in its mouth delivering its message to the “Chosen.” It is my desperation, not my hope that carries me forward. It is desperation for change, for urgent change because the young are being kidnapped far too swiftly and easily by indifference. Because the elderly are being treated as fragile and dying plants that simply need nutrition, not love, attention, and presence. Because more and more people are hiding from relationship, retreating from genuine struggle, and plugging their ears with devices to channel out any chance of forming community. We are becoming weak with excessive bravado and we are foolish to believe compassionate understanding alone is enough for the ostracized to feel embraced. I am desperate because so many believe contemporary faith is having answers in the face of adversity, numbing pain with pretension, and relieving any discomfort with pills, falsities, and cowardice. The absence of conflict is not an answer. That’s emptiness. Exonerated answers or pretending to have the answers only obstructs the hearing canal of our faith.

This is my experience as a catholic woman: to be fierce, not certain; to resurrect despite being discounted; to be transparent, not invisible. I do not believe one documented essay can uphold or attempt to record my life experience or that even a collection of Wisdom will save me or reveal something unknown. It is my desperate prayer that my question, my burning confusion will light someone else’s way so that our reflections are not about ourselves and our journeys, but more about providing light so I can see your face and you can see mine.

Before you is a question, not a statement. It is a 28-year-old offering, not a gift, of possibility and what could be, not what actually is. I can only share my Divinity, not in certitude, but in faith that it will be received, hopefully considered, or maybe even celebrated.

My question, among many, remains: What is so consuming in the church that it cannot hear my screaming?

1 comment:

  1. amazing... is incomprehensible to me that this will not be published. These compilers have no idea what they are dealing with here. I imagine a flood of energy, emotion, thought, reflection. A wellspring breaking forth of truth, passion, anger, and love for this church that both attracts and denies we, the young female, Catholic women


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